Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XXV

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first ninety-six comments were answered in the previous 24 posts, the ninety-seventh and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #97 Matthew Roper is claimed to have said, ‘Since Moroni offered Joseph Smith only a brief sketch, it is unlikely that he revealed to Joseph a comprehensive knowledge of Native American origins. It is important to understand that Joseph Smith did not have access to this knowledge. He translated the book, but apparently did not know the scope of its geography.’ Do you agree with that?"  Barclay
Response: I think it is safe to suggest that Joseph probably did not know exactly, but I would think he knew far more than he discussed, and that it was an area of interest to him, for when he learned of the ruins in Central America, he considered that they were Nephite. At the same time, he was a man constantly ridiculed by others for his beliefs, statements, and declarations. While I can’t speak for Joseph, I know if it were me, I would be thrilled to know from time to time that my ideas were well founded in the Lord. Such an expression seems to have been written by Joseph to Emma after his discovery of Zelph, the white Lamanite, who lived during the days of the Prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. In that letter, Joseph seems excited to tell his wife that the lands on which they had walked were “the Plains of the Nephites.” It was something he apparently did not know before his discovery of the bones of Zelph.
With all the contact Joseph had with Moroni, who lived in the Land of Promise, knew the Nephites, himself learned from his father, Mormon, and would have known all about the Nephite history, it is hard to image that Joseph would not have known a great deal about the Nephites he never discussed, though he did tell stories about them to his parents and siblings for years at family home evenings
Comment #98 “I agree with Hugh Nibley who said, ‘Book of Mormon geography is a waste of time. I wouldn’t touch it with a forty-foot pole. Never have; it’s not necessary. Some day we’ll get more information, I suppose. Everybody has tried their hand at it. I don’t know why; it doesn’t make any difference.’” Tommy T.
Response: To each his own. I find the subject fascinating myself and, as I’ve said before, the study of it over the past score of years has strengthened my knowledge of the Book of Mormon itself, and my testimony of its accuracy and truthfulness. It is interesting to note, however, that in Nibley's "some dayh we'll get more information, I suppose," I can testify that this is happening and has been happening for the past century or so. Scripture tells us that in the latter days the Lord will pour out his spirit and we will know things about the earth, above it, below it and within it. I can see that happening now in a big way.
Comment #99 “I have read your Book of Mormon and find nothing of value in it whatsoever.” J.R.
Response: How interesting. I found Captain Moroni’s valiant stand against the government and his declaration of the title of liberty inspiring; the story of Nephi’s unconquerable enthusiasm for the Lord and his willingness to trust in the Almighty quite uplifting; Alma’s repentance and the value of his father’s prayers in his behalf extremely motivating; Mormon’s willingness to lead his people in a last-ditch battle he knew he could not win most captivating. Maybe we were reading different books.
Comment #100 According to Joseph Smith, the angel said it gave: “…an account of the former inhabitants of this continent. (Joseph Smith History v.34)” which creates a problem for anyone choosing a setting other than North America. Central and your South America proponents have to stretch the geography to cover Moroni’s quote here.” Amber W.
Response: As has been written here many times, we ought to know the language of the time when a statement is made. The word “continent” in Joseph Smith’s time included all of the Western Hemisphere—that is, North, Central and South America, and did well into the 20th century—I still have a school geography book that shows the “American Continent.” This continent in Joseph’s day meant far more territory than we apply the term today in our language. Thus, Moroni was speaking to Joseph in the language Joseph knew in his day, and was referring to the entire Western Hemisphere, which was known as the American Continent in his day.
Comment #101 “I do not care for theories like that of Mesoamerica that try to skew directional descriptions in the Book of Mormon. Mormon and Moroni both saw our day and were writing to us, and the text was translated into the American English of Joseph’s day. They were not trying to deceive or confuse us.” Barbara O.
Response: I couldn’t agree more.
Comment #102 “You are claiming that the Jaredites went from Babel, on the Euphrates River and about 50 miles from the Tigris River, and traveled northward about 300 to 400 miles on foot. There they build barges and sailed back down one of these same rivers, past where they started out, and on for another 300 miles to the Persian Gulf. It doesn’t only not make any sense it is totally unreasonable.” Eric M.
Response: First, when you study a map area, what looks unreasonable can not only be reasonable, but outright necessary when you actually know the territory, etc., of the area in real life; Second, the distance would be no more than 200 miles, however, we really do not know exactly where the Jaredites were when they started. They would not have been in Babel (Babylon), where the Tower was being built for they would not have been involved in such work. Their village may have been a little closer to the Valley of Nimrod, but again, we do not know that.
The Jaredites traveled northwest into the Valley of Nimrod—now the man-made Lake Tharthar. Afterward, they traveled down the east side of the Tigris in the plains between the Zargos Mountains to the Mesopotamia Marshlands, which swamps, lakes and wetlands they crossed in “barges”
Third, they would have traveled northwest to the valley, which location today would be the man-made Lake Tharthar, which was filled in modern times by diverting the Tigris River (it being the only valley northward of Babel). Fourth, they did not build barges at that location. A key issue here is that this area, before it was made into a lake, was an ecological depression with water courses, animals, birds and fish. In other words, an excellent place for them to acquire the fauna needed for their journey. Note that in Ether 1:41, they were commanded to gather flocks of every kind and seeds of every kind, but after arriving in the Valley of Nimrod, they were commanded to gather birds, fish and bees (Ether 2:1-3)—something evidently they did not have around them where they lived. Consequently, for the Lord’s purposes to be fulfilled, they had to go to an area where such fauna was available to them, which in the desert area of upper Mesopotamia, was “northward;” Fifth, once in the Valley, the Lord told: “there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42). Note that He did not tell them “I will lead you through a Land,” but said, “to a land.” Then he adds, “there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed…a great nation.” Thus, we can see that the Lord is referring to the Land of Promise, their eventual goal. Then, still referring to the Land of Promise, “the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5). This, then, was the final destination—a land (quarter) where man had never been; Sixth, once “on the road,” they traveled in the “wilderness” between the settled areas next to the Tigris River and the Zagros Mountains. Once reaching the wetlands (north of present day Kuwait), they constructed barges to cross the marshes, swamps, and wetlands (known today as the Mesopotamia, Hammer, Hawizeh and Central Marshes—the worlds largest wetland system), which also included lakes and rivers, or what might be called “many waters.” The Jaredites along this course did not backtrack their route, nor would they have sailed down the Tigris or Euphrates rivers, which would have been heavily populated areas during a time of great turmoil. The entire journey is not only reasonable, but one of the few directions open to the Jaredites who traveled with women and children, flocks, birds, fish, and bees, and is spelled out in great detail in the book Who Really Settled Mesoamerica.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXVI,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

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